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An ice-cream shop known for shaking things up with its unique flavors and sometimes-shocking ingredients is now dishing out scoops at Walt Disney World — and just introduced quite the head-turning limited-edition menu this month.
Salt & Straw, an Oregon-based company, opened its 27th location at Disney Springs, Disney World’s shopping, dining and entertainment district, on April 20, and began serving up the company’s inventive, handmade ice cream flavors to Walt Disney World guests.
The shop serves a menu of classic flavors with a monthly rotation of themed specials. This month’s Summer Picnic Series, launched June 3, is giving Disney World guests their first big taste of Salt & Straw’s envelope-pushing ice creams with a seasonal lineup that includes components like — wait for it — fried chicken and deviled eggs.
Salt & Straw’s Backstory
The brainchild of cousins and co-founders Kim and Tyler Malek, Salt & Straw began as a dream Kim had to create a community gathering place, but she needed someone to make the ice cream. Tyler moved into her basement and started making ice cream in her kitchen, she said, and “two years later he won Forbes 30 Under 30 for changing the way America eats through ice cream.”
Community and collaboration are the foundations of Salt & Straw’s success.
“I wanted to open an ice cream shop where people could run into their neighbors and just hang out and spend time with friends and family and we quickly realized that could be reflected through our product,” Kim said.
Salt & Straw’s Head Ice Cream Maker and self-proclaimed “Flavor Czar,” Tyler develops every handmade flavor with a focus on collaboration with local makers, farmers and chefs.
In Florida, that’s been reflected in flavors like Panther Coffee Chocolate Tres Leches, made with Miami’s Panther Coffee, ground and steeped in cream and sugar for 45 minutes then strained, and The Salty Donut Guava + Cheese, a collaboration with artisanal donut shop The Salty Donut, which has locations in Orlando and throughout South Florida. Tyler says the Salt & Straw and Salty Donut teams have become close friends through the partnership, which includes a complete line of donut-laden flavors, available for shipping across the country.
Even the more “traditional” flavors on the menu of 12 year-round classic offerings are punched up with Tyler’s painstaking, perfectionist approach to getting his flavors just right.
“Strawberry is the hardest ice cream in the world to make without using tricks,” Tyler said. “Most use artificial flavor extract.”
Instead, Tyler’s take on classic strawberry gets inspiration from an Italian approach to serving strawberries — he dips them in balsamic vinegar and black pepper to make his Honey Balsamic w/ Black Pepper.
Tyler says he tasted more than 40 different types of cinnamon before settling on the right notes for his Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, a fan favorite, and calls the Honey Lavender “the perfect lavender ice cream for those who hate lavender like me.”
The Picnic Series
So what about those fried chicken and deviled egg ice creams? Launched the first Friday of every month, the Monthly Flavors are developed around a theme. June’s Picnic Series takes classic picnic items and turns them into some of the most unexpected flavors yet seen from Salt & Straw. Tyler says the monthly series often include “more provocative” flavors, intended to “stimulate interest and conversation.”
So far the Picnic Series is doing just that. The five-flavor lineup will definitely have you doing a double-take. It includes:
- Deviled Egg Custard w/ Smoked Black Tea
- Cinnamon & Honey Fried Chicken
- Baked Brie & Fig Cheesecake
- Chocolate Nocino Cherry Pie
- Pink Rosé & Watermelon Sorbet (vegan)
We had to hear more from Tyler about the fried chicken ice cream in particular. Here’s what he had to say.
“It is so freaking delicious! Honestly, this was one of the most difficult flavors we’ve ever created at Salt & Straw and would never be possible if not for a LOT of help from our friends at Ezell’s Chicken,” he said. “Overall, the texture and flavor is like nothing I’ve ever tasted. It’s clean and simple and, if you didn’t know better, you’d just think it was a pleasantly spiced, slightly savory, super crunchy, regular old ice cream … but, if you know, you know.”
The Picnic Series is available all month long at Walt Disney World and all Salt & Straw locations across the country (they also have an outpost at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney District). If you don’t have one near you, their products are also available to order online for shipping along with their classic flavors and other special series.
How does the Picnic Series sound to you? Would you try fried chicken ice cream?